The St. Andrews Union Debating Society (UDS) has a rich and storied ancestry. In 1794, St Andrews scholars founded an Enlightenment literary society, where gentlemen could gather to discuss the literature, classics or journals that electrified the period. In 1846, the rival Classical Society was established which went onto merge with the Literary Society in 1890 to form the Union Debating Society.

In 1898, the Debates Board was founded to manage the running of the society, followed by the post of President in 1910. In 1925, the Union Debating Society affiliated with the Students' Union (now the St Andrews Students' Association) and the Debates Board was dissolved. The President & Convenor of the Union Debating Society was now to be elected as the Union Convenor of Debates, a practice which continues to this day (now known as the SSC Debates Officer).

In 1932, the Debates Board was reinstated, and was renamed the Board of Ten in the 1970s. Nowadays, the Debates Board is comprised of the Board of ten (Executive), the Public Events Board and the Competitive Debates Board. The Board is elected every spring at an Annual General Meeting, open to all matriculated students of the University of St Andrews.


Throughout the society's history, public debates have occupied many buildings throughout the University. In the past, the Union Debating Society has used James Crichton's House, the council chamber of the Men's Students' Union, the Old Union Diner, and Lower College Hall in St Salvator's Quad.

Nowadays, public debates are held in Lower Parliament Hall in St Mary's Quad. Work began on the building in 1612, and it became known as Parliament Hall after the Scots Parliament was held there in 1645 during the Scottish Civil War. Today the building is primarily used for debates and academic conferences.